Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cooking out for Memorial Day Weekend

 It'd been a little while since I'd seen all my family1q2tgh (kitten), and I decided that Memorial Day weekend was the perfect time to get them, or at least the local ones, together.  So, with my sister Tabitha (who will, I believe, be posting soon) I planned a cookout.

Having become a little more health conscious as of late, she agreed that we ought to try to make it be a healthy cookout- no hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, pop, or potato chips for us!

Instead we had marinated chicken breast, marinated pork chops, sweet potato fries (largely inedible due to the fact that I forgot about them and burnt them to a crisp), veggie skewers, steamed asparagus, lemony kale salad, pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, bananas, dark chocolate ganache, and a layered pudding/cracker/oreo dessert.  Oh, and to drink, we had plain sweet tea, a sweet tea blend, organic lemonade (I don't always buy organic- but it was on sale, and I was glad to buy lemonade with real ingredients), organic lemonade with strawberries, organic lemonade with mixed berries, and water.  Obviously some of that stuff is healthier than others... but it was all delicious!  Well, I think.  I didn't have all of it, and the stuff I didn't have was devoured. :)

I unfortunately didn't get pictures of the meat or veggies, because they all arrived AFTER I took food pictures. I also didn't get a picture of the ganache.  Plus, no props or staging today yesterday!

One of my sister's roommates found a kitten.  A super duper fluffy feisty adorable kitten!  As he was too young to go to the shelter, she was fostering him.  Buuuuuuut then she randomly had to leave for a week, and my sister and her other roommate had work, so they figured it'd be best to have us take care of him, so he joined our family, temporarily at least, last night.

He bounces all over the place with energy energy energy, and then sleeps like a rag doll.  So he has the whole thing where he doesn't want to be held while he's playing, but then sometimes when he gets tired and for whatever reason wants to sleep on a person he comes and bugs you until you let him sleep on you.  Awwww. :)  He's fluffy.  Hee hee. :D

I want to keep him. :)

Also last night, my sister who recently got back from overseas showed off all her souvenirs and things.  It took hours.  But that gave plennnttty of time for kitten cuddling and baby cuddling and sister cuddling, so it was all cool.

It's a good thing that babies make silly faces while they're sleeping, because otherwise they'd be really really boring. :)

Later, some of us played tennis and sang hymns.  It was lovely.  Only I got really really energetic.  That happens sometimes when I eat plenty of meat.  Caffeine and sugar do nothing to me (well, actually, sugar can make me feel pretty depressed, especially when I make a cake late at night, snitching all the way, and when I'm done the kitchen is a complete wreck and I see nothing in life worth living for... at that point I decide that I'd better just go to bed haha), but give me a hunk of meat and before long I just can't stop moving!  Or talking!  It's pretty strange.  I restrained myself from belting out random songs while playing tennis, since it wasn't just me and my little sister, but I plum wore myself out from jumping and running around. :)

Since I didn't take pictures of the meat, I'll just link to the recipes.  Although admittedly I did no measuring.  Also, I used pork chops instead of tenderloin.  Chicken recipe is here...  Pork recipe is here...

For the flavored lemonades, I just dumped frozen fruit into pre-made lemonades.  They were yummy. :)

I don't like many salads, but I loved the lemony kale salad!  I loosely based it off of a recipe from the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  I just rinsed some kale, a little spinach, and a little spring salad greens mix...  Then tossed in some halved cherry tomatoes, homemade croutons, and grated parmesan cheese...  Then topped it with the juice of one lemon, some extra-virgin olive oil, and some salt and pepper.  For the homemade croutons, I baked part of a whole wheat baguette with some garlic salt, parsley, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil at 350 for about 15 minutes, turning them after about 10, and leaving them in the turned off oven as it cooled.

Well, that's about it for now...  I hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cherry-Vanilla Granola and Assorted Other Stuff

So, I've been meaning to post, but it just hasn't worked out, until now.

For instance, I made french toast using whole wheat french bread yesterday morning....  But then I decided that maybe it wasn't special enough to post.  Y'know, because who doesn't know how to make french toast?

Well, I didn't used to, but that's beside the point.

 Anyhow, I took pictures of it anyways, for practice.

Which I obviously need.

And then for lunch I made myself a WWFTPBSB sandwich.  That stands for whole wheat french toast peanut butter strawberry banana sandwich, in case you couldn't tell.  So I was thinking that maybe I could post that, but then I realized that my strawberries looked like they had seen better days, so I decided against it.

Plus, it's pretty self-explanitory

And THEN I decided that I could show you guys the invitations for my sister's bridal shower, which I'm planning, because I'm the maid of honor, which I'm super excited about!  Yay parties!!!  I'm so excited to be hosting my very own party!!!

Er...  Hosting my sister's very own bridal shower.  Right.

Anyhow, it's gonna be awesome! :)  I delivered the first invitations today, one to my sister across town, and my brother in law asked me what newspaper it was printed in, which I was kinda happy about because I kinda wanted them to look realistic but I wasn't sure how realistic they were, because my annoyingly perfectionist older sister E kinda hinted that if she were in charge of the proofreading stage, she'd have completely changed it.  Grrr E.

I used the HandTimes font (found on to write an article about the shower, added a B&W-ified picture of my sister and her fiance, and then used Picasa to put a 'film grain' on the whole thing.  Then I printed it on newsprint (cheap in big end-rolls at newspaper offices- you'll just have to cut it into standard paper size), printed a comic on the back, and highlighted the important parts.

By the way, yes, newsprint can jam your printer.  Thankfully, just enough of mine survived that I didn't have to cut more newsprint.

But still, I didn't want to write a whole post on that, although I guess I could have.

Anyhow, a while back, I ran out of granola.  I was actually kinda happy, because I'd had that particular kind, which I'd burnt slightly, for several months, thanks to the fact that I'm the only one in my house who actually eats granola.  Plus I really wanted to make cherry-vanilla granola, but didn't want to have two kinds of granola sitting on the shelf.

So today I finally made it. 

And it kinda failed.

Multiple times.

And yet, I kept going, and it all worked out!

So I guess it didn't really fail.  It just had its hiccups.

What happened was, when the recipe said to put the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, I was still roasting my almonds.  So I skipped to the next step- simmering the sugar, oil, and honey in a small saucepan.  I dumped the brown sugar in, not realized that there was OTHER sugar that I was supposed to simmer, and that the brown sugar was part of the first 5 ingredients supposed to go in the bowl.

So then, since the brown sugar was already soaking up the honey and the oil in the small saucepan, I was like, okay, whatever, I'll just leave that OTHER sugar out, and simmer the brown sugar!  But I didn't want to simmer that stuff quite yet, because the almonds still had a while, because I didn't feel like raising the oven temperature from what I'd had it preheated to for the granola, so they were slowly slowly slowly roasting at 300.

Plus, I'd stirred up the brown sugar/oil/honey mixture enough to know that my granola would be super duper crispy and super duper sugary if I dumped all that on the mere 4 cups of oats and the other ingredients I'd decided to dump in the bowl.  So I passed the time by adding another 2 cups of oats, another half cup of ground flax (which wasn't even called for at all in the original recipe) and about half a cup of whole wheat flour (also not called for).  Oh, and some more salt and cinnamon.  Finally my almonds were roasted enough (after I'd accidentally dumped them all on the oven door while trying to stir them while they were still in the oven [and scraped them back onto the pan]), so I started simmering the stuff while they cooled enough that I could smash them with a meat tenderizer.

I tried and tried to get them to simmer, but the oil never ever combined, although I guess in hindsight maybe it wasn't supposed to.  Anyhow, I took it off the heat and decided to add the vanilla, not realized how hot the pan was.   As I poured all four teaspoons of vanilla in, the mixture bubbled up violently, releasing tons of alcoholic vanilla smelling steam.  It was super strange.

I felt like some kind of mad kitchen scientist, which was pretty awesome.

Anyhow, I wasn't sure if the vanilla flavor would even still be in there, but I decided not to add more, just in case.  I stirred up the mixture some more (violently) and after it cooled a little, poured it all over the dry ingredients.  At first I thought it wasn't going to be enough...  But I just kept stirring, and it was, and everything went fine after that. :)  In fact, one of my sisters who never eats my granola thought it looked and smelled great!  And that was before I baked it!  It was probably because honey-cinnamon roasting almonds smell uhhhmazing.

I ate some granola when it got done, even though I wasn't hungry because I'd absentmindedly eaten half the bag of dried cherries while the granola was in the oven, and it was prettttttty tasty. :)  So, moral of the story?  Don't give up!  If you're going to waste ingredients, you may as well take them as far as they're gonna go.  Plus you'll learn stuff, and learning is always good.  I'll bet that someone has said something along the lines of "It doesn't matter how much you mess up if you learn from it."

So yeah, my recipe is a little different from the original, which I found here...  But it was still delicious. :)

Reeeeal quick....

Simple French Toast (just in case)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • enough bread to use up egg mixture (for me, it was 8 slices french bread and 3 slices of regular bread)...
In a shallow mixing bowl, whisk together ingredients.  Quickly dip slices in egg mixture and cook in a frying pan until golden brown on both sides.  Keep egg mixture stirred and spices well blended.

WWFTPBSB Sandwich:  Take two slices of french toast, and smear them with peanut butter.  Top one slice with a layer of strawberries, a layer of bananas, another layer of strawberries, another layer of bananas, and the other slice of toast.

 Cherry-Vanilla Granola
  • 6 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c ground flax
  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c crushed almonds
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 4 t vanilla
  • 3/4 c dried cherries
  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Roast almonds with a little cinnamon, salt, and honey.  When crunchy but not burnt, let cool and smash in a plastic bag with a meat mallet.
  3. Mix first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Combine brown sugar, oil, and honey is a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, if you can.  If not, just let the sugar dissolve and stir it a bunch.
  5. Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla.
  6. Pour hot liquid over oat mixture; stir well.  If it seems dry, just keep stirring.
  7. Spread granola on as many greased baking sheets as you need, and bake until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.   
  8. Let cool before adding the dried cherries and transferring to an airtight container.
    Yields over 10 cups.

Well, it's been a pretty busy day, and so strangely enough, I'm ready to go to bed!  Have a good night, everyone! :)  Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Baked Chicken Nuggets

So, today I did hardly anything productive.  For instance, I didn't do my laundry (read: pick my dirty clothes off the floor, and get my little sister to wash them), clean my room (uuuugh), make a bracelet someone hired me to make, or wash the dishes.  I think I'll just stay up really late tonight and get up early tomorrow morning and get it all done so I feel better.


No but seriously.  Don't underestimate my self-motivation.  I've stayed up 'til 4 am cleaning my room, just because I felt like it.

And it really needed it.

That's why it took until 4 am.

Another time, I was having some friends over right after school and I had to have my room spotless, so I stayed up until 6 am cleaning it, and got like, half an hour of sleep before school.  I probably took a nap at school though.  Man that was the nice thing about school.  I could stay up late and get up early because I could always take a nap during math class or something.  I hate taking naps at home though.

But I did make and drink a bunch of non-decaf coffee and clean the table and make supper and go thrift shopping and see my brand new nephew!!!

He's pretty cute, I guess, for someone with red, dry wrinkly feet and no eyebrows (hey, he must be related to me!!!).

But really, he's super sweet and precious.  He has the tiniest roundest little chin ever and looks so cute when he sleeps (which is pretty much all the time) and gets annoyed and squeaks adorably and makes funny faces when you tickle his feet to wake him up.  Also, when you hold him upright, his face is all saggy.  It's awesome and I love him.

Now, on another subject, I've decided something about this blog.  I need to be able to post recipes without acting like every single one is just uhhhhhmazing.  Granted, if it's disgusting and I hate it, I won't post it.  But as of now I'm implementing a law stating that I shall rate/give my entire honest opinion on all of my recipes.  Not that I've been dishonest.  I'm just not liking the thought of every single recipe I post having to be or having to be 'marketed' as the most amazing thing that you've ever put in your mouth.  Honestly, not all food is created equal.  Let me rephrase that.  Not even all GOOD food is created equal.  And people's tastes are different.  And I'm not going to not post a recipe just because it doesn't blow people's/my family's/my socks off.  And I don't want to sugar coat a recipe just so people will make it.  I'm a real person, and I believe you have a right to know exactly what is good and what is not so good about a recipe, and whether or not you should make it.

These chicken nuggets, for instance.  I could rave about how these are just so so delicious and if you make these you'll never even consider buying storebought chicken nuggets ever again and you can feed these to any small chicken-nugget loving children in your life and they'll love you forever and you'll be their favorite and blah blah blah.

But honestly, these are different than store-bought chicken nuggets, which I'm sure you can tell.  They're coated differently, baked, and just well, different.  Granted, if you're just looking for a healthy bite-sized chicken alternative, or an alternative to panko-breaded chicken bites, these will do the job.  But you will not, as an adult, swear to never eat anything but these amazing chicken nuggets ever again.  I mean, they're chicken nuggets.  Kid food.  Picky eater staple, although there are probably picky eaters who wouldn't eat these.  If you don't have kids or don't like kid food, you probably shouldn't make these.  Even though these are kinda like grownup chicken nuggets.

All that aside, I liked them.  I carefully and lovingly wung this recipe myself (don't say a word!  wung is the past tense of wing, as in wing it, which I like to do!), and then I ate a lot of them.  I dipped them in a mixture of barbeque sauce and ketchup, which is what I love to dip chicken in.  I was happy that they're healthier than most chicken nuggets.  And then I happily took pictures of them.  And then I went and ate almost half of a watermelon to round off my meal, and my tummy finished my meal with a nice helping of watermelon.

Here's the recipe.  I copied it from somewhere a long time ago when I was making my big old recipe book of recipes that I've been gradually going through and reviewing ever since.  So just so you all know, I didn't make up this recipe.  Although I did adapt it.  Majorlyish.  So yeah.

Printable Recipe Card

Crispy Chicken Bites
1 pkg boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 2.5 lbs
1/3 c wheat bran
1/3 c wheat germ
2 T ground flax
1/3 c crushed almonds
1 t salt
1 t black pepper
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 c hot water
1 t chicken bouillon granules
1 t rotisserie chicken seasoning
1 large egg
1) Preheat the oven to 400 and grease a baking sheet.  Or two, depending on how big your sheet is and how close you squeeze your chicken onto it.
2) Cut any fat off of the chicken breasts and then cut them into nugget-sized pieces, about 1 1/2 inches square.  Set aside.  Combine all dry ingredients in a container with a tightly fitting lid.  Shake well.  In another bowl, stir the chicken bouillon granules and rotisserie chicken seasoning into the hot water, so they dissolve a bit.  Add the egg and beat it good.
3) Dip each piece of chicken in the egg mixture, and then in the coating mixture.  Make sure they're well coated, and then place them on the greased baking sheet.
4)  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.  (my recipe said 10-15 minutes, but it took my chicken way longer.  so you could check it sooner)  Let cool a bit, and serve!

Yields 6 servings

Also, here are my opinions of the other recipes I've posted so far.

Strawberry Shortcake:  Mmmmm I really honestly thought that this was like, the best thing ever.  It was awesome and smooth and creamy and chocolatey and strawberry-y and the shortbread was awesome.  I liked it a lot. :)

Vanilla Bean Shortbread and Espresso with Cinnamon-Vanilla Foam:  I really liked this, too.  And I ate a lot of it.  For lunch.  Also, it was just perfect and awesome with the espresso.  Which I like.  But if you don't like espresso, forget it.  Actually, don't, because it would probably be really yummy with hot chocolate or something.  Mmmmm.  I should do that sometime.

Mocha Cheesecake:  This was good.  But I have this thing where if I know something is super high in calories, I kinda judge it by it's total tastiness per calorie.  And therefore I think I would have liked it a lot better if I coulda used low-fat cream cheese, etc etc.  Also, if you don't like coffee, you wouldn't like this, because it has an entire layer dedicated especially to the stuff. :)

S'mores Cake:  My first reaction was that I've made way better cakes, and that it was too dry.  However, during/after the aforementioned shoving-of-cake-into-my-mouth, I decided that I kinda liked it, and I think I would have liked it even more had I considered it a "snack cake" and downed it with several glasses of milk.  Mmmmm.  But seriously, this is no super-rich decadent melt-in-your-mouth delicate affair, so don't expect it to be.

Well, that's all!  As it turns out, I'm going to clean my part of the room at the same time as my little sister cleans hers.  Although mine will probably take longer.  Hopefully that will be tomorrow.  Hopefully before I go grocery shopping.  Hopefully before noon.  Yeah.

Bye-bye. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Greens Smoothie (haha not!) and S'mores Cake

So, in my imaginary life where I'm perfect, I wake up at 6 every morning without even considering pressing snooze, and then have devotions, make cinnamon rolls, and go for a run.  In reality, I set my cell phone alarms for 6:03, 6:19, and 6:32.  I also have a regular alarm set for 6:30.  At 6:03, my cell phone alarm goes off, I press snooze, and hear nothing more from it for the rest of the morning.  6:30 rolls around, and the other alarm goes off.  Okay, so one thing you've gotta know...  I share a room with my awesome little sister, and we share a full-sized bed.  One side is kinda slanted, and I can't get to sleep on that side.  That's the side next to the alarm clock.  So my little sister sleeps next to my alarm clock, and in the morning when it goes off, I poke her and she groans and presses snooze.  Because I have no concept of the time because I can't read her alarm, which is across the room, because I'm not wearing my glasses in the morning, and can't read my alarm because it's blindingly bright and is therefore turned to the side so we can get to sleep, I continue to poke my snoozer over and over again, until I wake up enough to realize that it's 8 o' clock and I'm totally not going to get downstairs in time to make a pot of coffee for my mom and me before she makes instant coffee for herself.  Sometimes when I do make it downstairs in time, I still don't make coffee, especially lately, because I'm lazy and not addicted to caffeine.  Actually, my mom can only drink decaf, even in the morning, so caffeine is irrelevant

 Annnyhow.... where was I going with this?  Oh yeah!!!  So this morning I woke up and decided to make my favorite smoothie.  Well first of all, we were out of the kind of juice I like to thin it out with, but I just used a different kind of juice because I'm totally flexible like that.  So I made the smoothie, and then since I like it so much, I decided to take some pictures of it and post it.

Well, I'm not posting it, because let me just say that the pictures were ridiculously tragically ugly and I deleted them all with the knowledge that not even an awesome collage could save these buggers.

Moving on....

Despite the first failure of the day, I had a chance to save face with a birthday/anniversary cake I was planning to make for after church.  After choosing between 8 or so chocolate cake recipes, I was distressed to find that we didn't have enough sour cream for the one I'd chosen.  After choosing between 4 or so more chocolate cake recipes that we actually had the ingredients for, I had the brilliant idea to make a s'mores cake.  Plus I also had the brilliant idea to make some fun substitutions and additions.  Y'know, to make it healthier, and more s'moreslike.  Because those are totally not contradictory.  The cakes smelled great in the oven!

[I interrupt this to warn you that when I said that I wouldn't post recipes I didn't like, I underestimated the need to post pictures that I'd taken before tasting the recipe.]

[I interrupt this again to warn you that if you're anticipating a disaster, the actual outcome will be super anticlimactic, as you can probably tell from the pictures.]

I finished assembling the cake through a series of wing-its.  It was pretty good looking, so I took some pictures of it.  It was awesome.  I got some pieces of firewood and a stick with stovetop-toasted marshmallows on it to go with the whole s'mores theme, y'know, and then I used a chocolate bar and some more marshmallows for props, arranging them directly on an ugly paint/blueberry stained green tablecloth whose ugliness was partly responsible for the morning's failure.  After taking a bunch of pictures, I decided that the whole setup might look better directly on the porch, so I moved the cake and all the props except for the tablecloth to the porch and took a bunch more pictures.

It was pretty hot out so by the time I finished taking pictures, the chocolate bar was getting pretty soft.  I kinda felt bad about it and didn't want to throw it away, but I didn't really feel like eating it myself.  It didn't have too much dirt on it or anything...  I mean, I'd eat it if I were so inclined to eat a chocolate bar at that point.  But I wasn't, so went into the living room where my sister D was chillin' in the corner on her laptop wearing headphones...

"Wanna nice melty chocolate bar?"  I hollered to be heard over whatever she was listening to, while holding the poor melty thing out to her.

She took it absentmindedly, and I'm assuming ate it, none the wiser.

My ability to strengthen others' immune systems in delicious ways without them knowing it is just awesome.

Actually she may still have eaten it even if she knew where it had been.


Anyhow, the cake.  After church, we ate it.  It wasn't horrible.  At first I just took a few bites of someone else's piece, and honestly, I thought it was a little dry and boring.  Of course, it didn't help that it didn't have any icing.  Or ice-cream...  But actually, later I grabbed some more and ate it with my hands, just shoving it into my mouth, y'know, and it tasted way better that way.  Like, kinda wholesome and chocolatey and stuff.  So, if you're going to eat this, don't use a fork or proper etiquette.

[For the record, I just thought of the appropriate food blogger term for this cake.  It's a snack cake!]

I adapted the cake recipe from here.  All I did differently was substituted 3/4 c of a mix of graham flour and whole wheat flour for 3/4 c of the all-purpose flour, substituted 1/4 c brown sugar for white, and threw in like, 4 crushed graham crackers and maybe 1/2 c mini chocolate chips.  Oh, and I baked them in two 9-inch pans, not a 9x13.  I wasn't super impressed with the cake, so you could use a different chocolate cake recipe.  Or you could try this one without my substitutions.  Or you could make it the way I did, because a good 50% of the people thought it was perfect the way it was.

For the filling, I put like, 8 marshmallows, some chocolate chips, and a little milk in a bowl and nuked them until they were about to overflow.  Then I stirred all that up and added like, 8 more marshmallows and nuked that until it was about to overflow, and stirred that until it was all smooth.  Then I crushed 2 graham crackers into that.  I sprinkled the first layer with mini chocolate chips and then put on the filling.

For the topping, I stuck the top layer on a pizza pan, sprinkled it with chocolate chips, cut marshmallows in half until they filled the top, and broiled it on low until they were all roasted looking.  Then I sprinkled that with more chocolate chips and 2 more graham crackers, and drizzled it with some chocolate syrup.  Whew!

If you make this, keep in mind that you have as much right to wing it as I do, so if you don't have something on hand or have an idea to make it better, just, well, wing it!

Here's my Printable Recipe Card.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mocha Cheesecake plus Related Confessions

 So, I have some confessions.

1) I don't really like these pictures.  I didn't have any pretty saucers so I used a paper dessert plate, for instance.  Plus they just stink.  That's why I made collages.  To disguise them.  Because collages are... Awesome.

2) I usually make low-fat cheesecakes, but when I had to go get cream cheese after work on Thursday, the closest place that was open and had cream cheese was K-Mart, and they only had the full-fat kind.  Sometimes I really wish I were one of those people who have no fear of and even embrace full fat cream cheese and lots of butter and lots of sugar, but I'm not, so I felt kinda scared when I made this, and when I ate it.  But I didn't die and didn't turn into a round ball, so I think I'll be okay.

3) So you know how I just confessed that I'm scared of all that stuff?  Well, that doesn't keep me from eating it.  I'm just scared while I eat it, and feel super guilty about it.  Sometimes I make healthier desserts, and then I don't feel as guilty about eating a bunch of it.  One of these days I'll wake up with the self control of myself last year, and everything will be okay.

4) To be honest, the fact that my first three posts are all desserts kinda makes me sad.  One time I went 3 months without eating dessert, which was awesome but way harder to do a second time.  Plus I love making supper and all that, it's just that I haven't had the chance in like, forever.  It goes like this.  First I spend the weekend in Chicago.  Then on Monday we have leftovers.  Then on Tuesday we do our grocery shopping and have a freezer meal for supper, and if I took that away from people, they would be very, very angry with me.  On Wednesdays we have church, so we don't really have supper as a family.  On Thursday (this week, anyhow) I had work over suppertime.  Fridays, my sister V cooks, or we go to pizza night at a friend's house.  And today I'm going to a wedding, and have no idea when I'll be getting home.  So yeah.  Even though I have like, 20 kajillion things I want to make for suppers, I can't.  But never fear!!!  I will!  Someday!!

If that doesn't excite you, I'm sorry.  Wait- actually I'm not.  No.  That's your loss.  Ha!

Anyhow, we had a very nice time at our taco night last night, and now we only have like, 5 pieces of cheesecake left.  And I think most people liked it because it's cheesecake and because I saw my mom eating a piece of it for breakfast.

You might think that eating dessert for breakfast/lunch/supper runs in the family, but it's just because we're smart.  I mean, it's a common sense thing, which goes like this.  IF you're going to have a piece of cheesecake, you want to enjoy it fully, not as an afterthought to eggs or something.  Plus, there's no reason to eat cheesecake AND breakfast, if you're worried about eating too much.  Plus dark chocolate is good for you, and coffee is, too.  So yeah.  It's like, a balanced meal.  Ha, ha.

So, I got the recipe here.

And here's the Printable Recipe Card, with my adjustments, which since I didn't have low-fat cream cheese is pretty much just the crust.

And since I need to leave now you can just go to one of those places if you want the recipe.

Have a good Saturday!!! :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Vanilla Bean Shortbread and Espresso with Cinnamon-Vanilla Foam

The other day, I decided to try I recipe that I'd had bookmarked for a while (I have lots of those), because I wanted something to eat with my espresso.  And because I wanted to take some pictures with my new camera.  And because I like to make espresso with my AWESOME stove top espresso machine.  Which my sister re-gifted it to me on request.  And because she wasn't even sure what it was until I told her.  :)  I love my sisters.

 So, going through my recipes...  Cookies?  Na.  Cake?  Definitely not.  Biscotti?  Hmmm more of a tea thing for me, usually.  So, vanilla bean shortbread it was. 

And let me tell you, it was good.

In fact, the perfect accompaniment to espresso.  It was sweet and crumbly and awesome and sweet and awesome

Gotta love how the handle of my espresso machine has a little melty drip on the end.  I guess that was from one of the times that forgot about my espresso until it burnt and got way too hot, because I don't think it was that way when I got it.

Lets talk about foam.  I'm not really a fan of straight espresso.  I like it with lots of foam/milk, or with ice cream.  (Oh my goodness it's soooooo good with ice cream!!!!!)  But this time I made some foam with my handy-dandy little foam maker that I got on amazon for cheap.  Cinnamon-vanilla foam.  Mmmmm!  All you need to do is to pour some milk into a cup, add some cinnamon, add some vanilla syrup (or just vanilla and maybe some sugar or honey, if you don't have vanilla syrup), and then foam away!!!

I didn't even microwave my foam, because my espresso was really hot and I didn't want to burn my tongue.  Plus, I really like the combination of hot and cold (see espresso+ice cream).  Plus it would have overflowed.

 I like to use skim milk when I make foam, because it foams up super well.  It works with any kind though, I think.  Actually, I probably wouldn't always have my foam overflowing in the microwave if I didn't use skim milk.  Or maybe I would.  I should probably just use a bigger cup.

I halved the recipe, and split it between me, my little sister, and my mom.  I know, I know...  Those are big servings.  Plus it wasn't even split evenly between the three of us.  But it was so yummy!  And I hadn't eaten lunch.  So....  Yeah.

I should have ironed my tablecloth.

So, yesterday I slept in, then went and helped a friend watch her grandchildren (who are adorable!!), then cleaned the kitchen, then went to work.  That is- my first day at my new job... at a frozen custard shop.

Best workplace ever.  If you have a frozen custard shop near you, like a Ritter's Frozen Custard, you should definitely go there.  For supper.  Or, if you're responsible, after supper.

Oh, also yesterday, it was my mom's birthday, and my sister got back from 6 months overseas, and I got home from work and made my mom a mocha cheesecake which we will eat tonight at the welcome home happy birthday taco dinner at my sister's house.  Maybe I'll post about it, if I get the chance to take pictures of it without my family making fun of me. :)

Here's the recipe, adapted from here.

Vanilla Bean Shortbread
Printable Recipe Card

3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/8 c cornstarch
1/8 t salt
1/4 c butter, softened
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1) Preheat oven to 350.  Line an 8x4-inch loaf pan with foil; coat it with cooking spray.
2) Combine flours, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-size bowl; whisk to combine.
3) Beat butter with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Add oil and beat again until well blended.  Gradually add sugar, beating well.  Add seeds, scraped from the vanilla bean.  Add flour mixture, beating just until blended.
4) Dump into prepared pan and press to an even thickness.
5) Bake for 30 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
6) Cool until handle-able; devour, preferably alongside espresso.

Yields 8 servings.

By the way, I'm pretty sure that every time I mentioned a sister in this post, I was talking about a different one.  Because I have lots of them.  And I like them.

Happy awesome Friday!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake (Becky's first post)

Well, here we go! My first ever blog post

My name is Becky.  I'm a redhead, and so is my older sister Tabitha, who is the other half to this blog. She's pretty awesome. :)

I like to feed people, which is easy when I make things like strawberry shortcake, because who doesn't like strawberry shortcake?

Okay, well actually, when I was younger, I wouldn't have.  I didn't like fruit.  I was crazy.  Now I love fruit!

I come from a big family, although since I'm one of the youngest, most of them have moved out, or are about to.  So I don't really have that many people to cook for any more.

I guess cooking for 5-7 people isn't that skimpy, but compared to cooking for 8-10, it feels pretty strange!  Of course, I don't have any concept of cooking for my family the way it was when I was younger, before my brothers moved out- even we girls were pigs!!!

Moving on, here's the delicious strawberry shortcake that I made last week, before I started this blog, before I saw anybody else posting it.

So much for that.  Now strawberry shortcake recipes are all over the place.

But hey, mine has chocolate ganache!

The 'shortbread' is a sweet, somewhat crumbly biscuit.  Topped with juicy strawberries, silky homemade whipped cream, and rich chocolate ganache, this makes a tasty and fun summer dessert.  Mmmm. :)

You know how I said it was easy to feed people strawberry shortcake?  Well, as it turns out, my sisters weren't quite sure if they liked it.  J thought that it was too sweet, but admitted that she'd eaten a bowl of ice-cream before supper, and didn't really want anything sweet at all.

V compared it to what the cafeteria served when she was in high school.  That was like, years and years and years ago, but what they served was white cake topped with strawberry syrup and whipped cream.  "What you made was like, a biscuit. And the strawberries didn't have enough juice."

Yes. They were biscuits.

I'll allow that I could have left the strawberries soaking in sugar for longer, but it was still delicious.

I was in Chicago a few weeks ago visiting some friends, and we had strawberry shortcake.  It was delicious.  Actually, it was the inspiration for my making this.  The biscuits were just a little bit different (my friend made them, and they were a bit more like drop biscuits), but everything else was just like this (I made it).  Mmmm!  And they liked it.  So there! :)

And, of course, I loved it.  Just so you know, I won't post recipes I don't like.  Not even if everyone else likes them.  I like to think that if I like a recipe, the general public will, and that my family is just picky and weird.  Shhh. :)  Okay so they'll probably read that.

Here's the recipe, which I adapted from here and here.  I didn't use a recipe for the ganache, because I know it by heart! :)

Strawberry Shortcake

Shortbread Biscuits
 2 c all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 T sugar
1 stick butter, chilled
2/3-3/4 c half and half, milk, or cream (I used some skim milk and some cream)

Strawberry Topping
2 cartons strawberries
1/3 c sugar

Whipped Cream
1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
some powdered sugar
some vanilla

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Ganache
1 c heavy whipping cream
9 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Rinse, hull, and chop your strawberries.  Sprinkle with sugar and let stand until juicy- about an hour.
2) In a large bowl, whip the whipping cream with an electric mixer preferably using a whisk attachment.  When the cream begins to form soft peaks, add the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Whip until soft and creamy. Set aside in the fridge.
3) Preheat oven to 425 with the rack in the center.  Line an 8x8-inch pan or a loaf pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Process the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a food processor or large bowl.  Cut butter into 8 pieces and either process in or cut in with a pastry cutter until all chunks are about pea-sized.  Dump into a large bowl and make a well.  Mix in desired milk product and let stand for a few minutes.  Fold dough over a few times before pressing into prepared pan.  Bake until slightly risen and golden, checking at 10 minutes.  Once cool, cut into 8 pieces.
4) In a microwave safe bowl, heat chocolate chips for 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted.  Stir in whipping cream until smooth.
5) Assemble strawberry shortcakes and serve!

Yields 8 servings.

I feel kinda nervous writing my first blog post, so I have to keep going back and correcting the places where I sound like I'm writing an essay for English class.  And I'll probably never be satisfied with my first blog post.  I mean there are so many awesome food bloggers, it's scary!  Who am I to compete with them?  I guess it'll get easier, and I'll realize that all the other bloggers I admire are real people, and I'll stop writing as if I'm getting graded on my use of contractions. :)  I took an AP English test today-- the last of my high-school career, so let me tell ya, I know all about the use of contractions, and how they don't belong in a formal essay.  But this isn't a formal essay.  Right.  Whew! :)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!